Thursday, 22 January 2009

Scrap Article 47

  • Anybody with any interest in recreational sea fishing in Europe should be aware of the proposed Article 47 - see Nigel Farrage's own thoughts below. Nigel is an MEP and is the UKIP leader, and together with his two sons, they are all mad keen sea anglers. Please read Nigel's words and then sign the various petitions. There is also a forum thread all about Article 47 right here. Nigel is not just some politician who claims to love fishing because it gets him votes - I have fished with him and his sons in the past, and they are as passionate as you and I about their fishing.

"I had been enjoying a superb autumn on Dungeness beach, catching loads of codling up to 8lbs. On my last trip before Christmas I packed up at 2am. I thought how incredible it was that from April I might have to report my catch to the authorities or risk breaking the law. This is because on December 18 last year, with no prior warning, the European Commission announced that they intended to regulate sea angling. Be under no illusion, this represents the biggest threat to our sport ever and we must stand up and fight. The plan is to put sea angling on the same, discredited quota system as that used by the commercial fishermen. It will mean that ever private boat, yacht or kayak that wants to drop a line over the side will need a licence. All fish landed will need to be reported whether caught from boat or shore. Once the quota for angling is used up, any fish taken could result in a fine of £50,000! Without an army of officials, the likelihood is that many sea anglers will just become criminals, as bad laws are always treated with contempt. The odd person will be unlucky though and face massive fines. What is at stake here is not just the sport we love but one of the last freedoms that we enjoy. It must be stopped. Over the Christmas holidays I worried about the plan and I had plenty of time to do so as the easterly winds killed cod fishing stone dead. On my return to Brussels I was even more alarmed to see the plans to put these measures through at breakneck speed. We have to act now as the final vote by the European Parliament is likely to be in April. I would strongly urge everyone in the fishing community to oppose this proposal. There is no point in writing to your local MP and all power of fisheries has been given to the EU.

Visit the UKIP website, and sign the petition to have Article 47 dropped. Contact the MEPs for your area, they can be found at

Tell them that you want Article 47 of the 'Council Regulation establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy' to be deleted.

Clearly tell them you will not vote for them in the June 4 European Elections if they let you down.

Contact UK Fisheries Minister Huw Irranca-Davies at and urge him to get Article 47 dropped.

If tens of thousands take the trouble to lobby you will be listened to. MEPs need your votes to secure their next five year term. You can put pressure on them. I am appealing to angling groups in France and Holland and urging them to do the same. Don't let Brussels bureaucrats ruin our sport or our industry.

Stand up and fight!"

Nigel Farage MEP, UKIP leader

  • Make sure to sign this petition here as well - we sea anglers tend to have a tradition of general apathy towards potential threats to the future of our sport, but regular people like us need to wake up and be heard. We are not commercial anglers, and I have no time for recreational anglers who sell their catch on the side - either you fish because you love it, or you are a commercial angler. In no way am I damning the commercial guys by the way, that is not my point at all. Fish commercially with a license to make a living, and come under the various rules and regulations, or fish for pleasure because you are an angler. Any attempt by the powers that be to bring recreational anglers under the same regulatory umbrella as the commercial sector has to be stopped.

  • There is a good newspaper article online about the proposed Article 47, click here. Those charter fleets we see in our ports are having a tough time of it as it is, but now imagine you can't go out pollack or cod fishing later this year because there is no more quota left. Sure, you could go and catch a few and then watch them float off dead in the tide because you can't legally take them home and eat them, but who's going to do that ? I would support any logical measure to fine the hell out of any recreational angler who is caught selling their fish, and I am completely behind measures to protect our (dwindling) fish stocks, but recreational fishing must not be allowed to come under the commercial quota systems.


Paul said...

Hi Henry,

On WorldSeaFishing's forums
There's a post on this topic and it gives the following email addresses of various polical figures to email and show your displeasure to:;;;;;;

The idea's very ill-thought out and will be a little bit like the laws on fox hunting i.e unenforceable only more so. The only worry I'd have is that at this time of depression the Government might see this as an opportunity to create jobs. Imagine hundreds of sea warden whizzing round on Jetskis, confiscating equipment if angler is unable to provide proof of license. Bonkers is not quite the word (but it has B,O,K and S in it!!).
All the best

Paul said...

further to my earlier comment! I've had three responses from various MEPs the most recent one from Elspeth Attwooll was largely positive :-

Thank you for your correspondence about Article 47 of the Control Regulation. I share your concerns over this.

Unfortunately, the Article is not clearly drafted, but as far as I can understand it the European Commission intends it to apply only where there is a multi-annual (recovery) plan, for stocks outside safe biological limits, such as with cod and blue fin tuna and where the fishing is done from onboard a vessel. This means that it would not affect most recreational sea fisheries, including any done from onshore, or angling on inland waters.

As I understand it, the Commission's concern is with the substantial amounts that are caught by some recreational fisheries in relation to the species covered by the multi annual recovery plans. For example, it is estimated that in Italy (2007), 800 tonnes of blue fin tuna were caught by recreational fishers whilst the national quota is around 4,300 tonnes. On my reading, too, the Article is intended to prevent commercial fishing under the guise of recreational fishing.

That said, Article 47 sets a precedent of which we should be very wary. Please be assured that this point has already been raised with some force in the course of our deliberations in the Fisheries Committee. It seems clear that there will be amendments from committee members asking for the Article to be deleted from the proposal or, failing that, amended very substantially indeed.

I should add, though, that under the current procedures, the Parliament can only give an opinion and the final decision is taken by the Council of Fisheries Ministers. So, it would be useful, too, for you to make the government directly aware of your views on the issue.

** I think that's quite positive but like you say everyone needs to voice their concern at more unnecessary red tape from Brussels which is just not needed.

Rant over!!

Henry Gilbey said...

Paul - huge thanks for all this info, I hope a load of people have picked up on it.

Paul said...

Hi Henry,

I've also had a similiar email from Scottish MEP John Purvis who shares exactly the same concern. Am sure that this legislation can't get through as it's absolutely unpoliceable (if there's such a word!!).
All the best

Paul said...

Have had two more emails from MEPs about it since last got back to you.

No-one who has got back to me has had a good word to say about Article 47 so I think that has to be a good thing. Am sure no-one seriously imagines that restricting the catches of people using rod and line recreationally will have more than a minute impact on the damage being done by commerical overfishing.

Ian Hudghton view for example is -

"In any event, whatever the reason/excuse given by the European Commission as authors of this proposal, my own view is very clear. Over my 10 years experience as an SNP MEP I have become absolutely convinced that the Common Fisheries Policy itself has been a miserable failure, and that management power over all fisheries should be returned to the Governments of fishing nations, such as Scotland. I therefore do not support this EU proposal to extend the scope of the CFP into the area of recreational fisheries."

Martyn said...

Hi Henry,

If the video in the address below wasn't so funny it'd be true...

Glenn Kilpatrick said...

Hi Henry,

Congratulations on publicising this and taking a stance on it. I had feared the celebrity anglers would duck for cover on this one.

Best wishes - Glenn